Prior to 0630h on May 23, 2012 we were waiting for the highway bus near the Hida-Takayama train station. Tourism can be tiring and I think we were both ready for a change of pace. Anyway at 0630h punctually as with most Japanese transportation we were on the way. Of course we encountered more tunnels as we were still in mountain country. Our first rest stop was at Hirano Onsen (hot spring resort), where finally we got a decent view of the snow covered mountains. We also saw may beautiful green mountains with many hues of green including the yellow of the bamboo which sheds its leaves in spring. So many things you can see from the bus window, but definitely not easy to photograph. We saw rivers, natural hot water coming out of the side of mountain near the road, dammed lakes for hydroelectric power, a large solar power installation. Soon enough we left the mountains and were back in "civilization" (whatever that word means). Another rest stop and off for Tokyo. There was the occasional bus stop on the side of the highway and near Tokyo the first two passengers got off. Why do they call those roads freeways? Firstly they are very expensive with toll gates that vehicles equipped with transmitters such as our bus just drive through at 20km/hr and they are automatically debited. Secondly after this bus stop we slowed to a crawl almost all the way to Shinjuku. Construction on both sides of the highway and only one lane each way. Well we finally reached Shinjuku with our poor bus driver having driven under trying circumstances for more than six hours. Every time we get to Shinjuku we have trouble figuring out where the train station is. Shinjuku is the upscale shopping area of Tokyo with many high rises all around. The train station is the busiest in the world with at least five train lines including JR (Japan Railways) and we have trouble finding it. Train stations tend to be integrated with shopping centers and I think we all know who gets the most advertising clout.
From Shinjuku we took a train to Ueno and then hopped on a Joban line train bound for the terminal station of Mito. We normally get off at Sanuki and take a two car local train which stops once and then arrives at a dead end in the old part of Ryugasaki City, where we might do a bit of grocery shopping and then take a ¥710 bus ride to within a 15 minute walk of home. But this time Yayoi's connections had connived to have a junior high friend pick us up a Toride station, a short stop at his office nearby, where his assistant had ocha available almost immediately. After finishing our tea and seeing the printed list of classmates he drove us quite a distance to our rural home and then almost immediately drove back to the office.